Wednesday , September 23 2020
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Jeff Mosenkis (IPA)

Jeff Mosenkis (IPA)

Jeff Mosenkis explains what IPA does and what our findings mean to policymakers and the general public; for example, translating "multiple inference testing adjusted q-values" into other languages, like English. Before joining IPA, he worked for Freakonomics Radio which is heard by millions on public radio and online around the world. Jeff holds an MA in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences and a PhD in Psychology and Comparative Human Development, both from the University of Chicago.

Articles by Jeff Mosenkis (IPA)

IPA’s weekly links

11 days ago

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

Some student-created infographic examples from the Communicating Economics website. 
Communicating Economics is a site with tools, tips, and videos of in-person college level lectures on, well, pretty much what the title says. It comes from the person behind Econ Films, whom I’ve worked with before and are very good at at what they do.
A Belgian court has cleared the way for the remains of the first Prime Minister of an independent Congo to be returned to his family. In 1961 Patrice Lumumba had been in the job for three months when the Belgian government had him killed, along with two family members. And his “remains” consists of a tooth, because the Belgian authorities also ordered his body to be dissolved in acid. Longer

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IPA’s weekly links

18 days ago

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action

Planet Money’s new resource for educators pairs podcast episodes with lesson plans, cataloged by topic.

It’s a big week for findings from cash studies including: publication of Chris’s study with Fiala and Martinez showing cash benefitted Ugandan participants, but by 9 years later the control group had caught up; Universal Basic Income in Kenya buffered against hard times when COVID and the agricultural lean season hit simultaneously; and a head-to-head-comparison between cash and an employment training program that found neither boosted employment, but cash was more effective at boosting economic outcomes. I summarize and link to them in this thread.
On that last one (comparing a traditional program to cash), some nice

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IPA’s weekly links

August 14, 2020

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

There’s a lot of basic social science documenting humanity’s flaws, biases, and injustices, but less on fixes. The cover of the new issue of Science today features Salma Mousa’s paper using an experiment in post-ISIS Iraq to promote reconciliation between persecuted Christians and their Muslim neighbors (plain language summary here). Using contact theory, she randomly assigned Muslim players to some teams in a Christian soccer league and found it improved social cohesion, but changed attitudes extended only to Muslims in the league, not beyond. Summary here, explanatory thread by editor Tage Rai, and commentary from Betsy Levy Paluck and Chelsey Clark explaining the significance of the work.
This follows Matt Lowe’s paper

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IPA’s weekly links

July 24, 2020

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
Claudia Goldin charts a century of women in the workforce
I’ve heard these days in medicine there’s a glut of papers that are all essentially “[thing I was doing already] + in the time of COVID,” which seems like is true of all fields now. The German Development Institute for Evaluation (DEval) has a helpful roundup of several useful new hubs for evidence, research, and methodology resources for dev/social science.
A few weeks ago I saw someone say something like “good thing economics is so status driven and hierarchical, at least someone gets to publish nulls.” Heres’s a nice thread of responses to Pia Raffler’s request for resources on showing (and publishing) null results.
Stefano DellaVigna and Elizabeth Linos compare the

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IPA’s weekly links

July 17, 2020

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

Cool panel on Wednesday, now that schools have gone remote, how to assess remotely if kids are learning.
And another on Thursday including Anne Karing of Princeton, Jonathan Robinson from UC Santa Cruz, presenting new data on covid impacts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Malawi
University of Cape Town economist Grieve Chelwa has been critical of RCTs in the past so my colleague and were braced for his online discussion at Africa is a Country (dropping you in after 40ish min of football talk but feel free to rewind for that). But honestly we walked away both saying he was right, and it was a really good conversation. (Paraphrasing), he said something like as a student in Zambia he read plenty of great research by Zambian

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IPA’s weekly links

June 12, 2020

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action

Professor Lisa Cook explains that black and white inventors put in equivalent numbers of patent applications once in 1899, and never again. 
First, a great webinar by Professor Lisa Cook, former economic advisor to President Obama, among many other accomplishments, on how lynchings, violence, and discrimination caused African-American inventions (measured by patent applications) to peak in 1899 and never recover. Here’s the video and slides, but for a fast summary, I did my best to live tweet it. She covered a lot of ground, but some parts that stuck with me in particular:
The number of “missing” patents never filed because of the decreased numbers is on the order of the contribution of a medium-sized European country. It’s

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IPA’s weekly links

June 5, 2020

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
Stanford Political Scientist Hakeem Jefferson hosted a great conversation with a number of scholars on race and the criminal justice system
[embedded content]
The readings mentioned are assembled in this Dropbox folder and thread, and the Stanford Daily summarized the conversation.
A couple of points that jumped out at me were what counts as research/evidence in academic research circles (it seems common for scholars of the black experience to face skepticism, or the view that its a specific niche topic).At the same time, a lot of sloppy (or fundamentally flawed) research on policing or other areas of policy makes it through peer review and gets a lot of public attention. And just like COVID, we might be about to be deluged

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IPA’s weekly links

May 22, 2020

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action

Coronavirus patient, comedian Noam Shuster, found herself at the center of an accidental social experiment profiled on the Rough Translation podcast
My colleague Kate Glynn-Broderick writes today with an example of how her existing project in Bangladesh, exploring gender gaps in access to mobile money and banking is quickly pivoting to COVID-19, as Bangladesh’s government plans to use those same platforms to distribute social protection, threatening to leave the most marginalized people out of the government response.
South Africa’s National Research Foundation COVID-19 Africa Rapid Grant Fund offers funding to researchers and also journalists and policy communicators from 15 sub-Saharan African countries working on COVID-19.

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IPA’s weekly links

May 1, 2020

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action

Last week I mentioned the new COVID research RECOVR hub, which was still in development. This week it’s been launched officially, to help development researchers share information about ongoing studies, survey instruments, and funding opportunities. If you are doing related work, please share or have a look at what other researchers are doing so we can build on one another’s work.
A great initiative from the Busara Center, “Give More Tomorrow,”  lets better-off Kenyans pledge to give the money from their new tax breaks to the poor during this crisis, but it’s not limited to Kenyans. Anybody can use the Busara pledge on their site for their tax refund or stimulus check as well and donate to Kenyans in crisis via GiveDirectly.

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IPA’s weekly links

April 24, 2020

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action

First some good news – congratulations to development economist and dewormer Ted Miguel, social psychologist of diversity and justice Jennifer Richeson, gynecologist and Nobel laureate, Denis Mukwege of the DRC, and the other newly elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
For researchers working on (or interested in working on COVID in low- and middle-income countries): to facilitate collaboration, with support from the Gates Foundation, IPA, with J-PAL, CEGA, the ICG, CGD, Northwestern’s Global Poverty Research Lab & Yale’s Y-RISE, are going to launch a COVID research hub next week listing ongoing research studies (with data & results when ready), funding opportunities, and survey research instruments. If

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IPA’s weekly links

April 6, 2020

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
Remember to fill out your U.S. Census form if you got a mailing! Of course accurate counts are important for apportioning leadership and federal resources, but more importantly (as someone else pointed out) so that researchers 80 years from now looking at historical trends won’t pull out their hair in frustration of the lost 2020 census data the same way ones today do about the 1890 census data fire.
The Dev Impact blog had a pair of postings for research in the time of COVID-19. First, how your interventions and methods will have to change in the times of COVID-19, and dilemmas for researchers when your study is interrupted and what to do about them, which goes into specific past examples of how researchers adjusted when

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IPA’s weekly links

March 23, 2020

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.
It’s a little tricky to write links when it feels like things are changing hourly. Here’s the main message to keep in mind for the research community – you can do more than idle your projects. COVID-19 will affect every aspect of development, health, education, entrepreneurship, mobile money, cash transfers, political systems and trust in authority. But, if you have a research expertise in some area of development, now’s the time to use it, not in three years to get a good retrospective paper. The advantage we have is that (as far as we know), it hasn’t hit the Southern Hemisphere badly yet, and we still have a shot at slowing or containing it there. The bad news is that, as far as I can tell, research orgs aren’t

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IPA’s weekly links

March 6, 2020

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
Thanks for being patient while the links were on hiatus, we’re back!
COVID-19 is obviously on everybody’s mind. For the dev crowd, let’s remember that right now travel from US/Europe to the Southern hemisphere might spread the disease to vulnerable places with much weaker health systems.I apologize for not having it handy, but there was a good thread about how the mental model of the poor countries being the source of diseases may have contributed to U.N. troops bringing cholera to Haiti and discharging their waste into drinking water.The Global Dispatches (formerly UN Dispatch I think) podcast is always very informative. Host Mark Leon Goldberg spoke with Johns Hopkins professor Paul Spiegel who is currently modeling how an

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IPA’s weekly links

December 20, 2019

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.
A few years ago, Liberia, whose educational system has been troubled to say the least, tried an experiment. In the face of under-resourced and underperforming public schools, they wondered if private education providers could run public schools better than the government was? The country announced that it was going to outsource the whole country’s schools to one American company, but after public outcry the plan was scaled back to pilot and included a randomized evaluation with three private and five non-profit school operators running different test schools.Now the three-year evaluation results, from Mauricio Romero and Justin Sandefur (conducted with my IPA colleagues in Liberia), are out: short summary, 3ish page brief &

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IPA’s weekly links

December 13, 2019

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.
There’s a new evaluation out of the Northern Ghana site of the famous expensive Millennium Villages project most associated with Jeff Sachs. I’m not an expert, but as I understand it, the theory is that an intensive big fix (building new institutions like hospitals and many other things at once) could fix the interdependent problems of poor areas.The thing is that Sachs insisted he knew it would work, and it didn’t need an independent evaluation, in fact threatening people who criticized the project’s inadequate evaluation, and yelling at a reporter (disclosure: she’s now my colleague) who asked for the full budget numbers. My understanding is that in addition to the outside funding Sachs brought, it required local government

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IPA’s weekly links

November 27, 2019

Photo: Larry George II on UnsplashGuest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
For your travels this weekend I’ve put up some favorite podcast recommendations, plus some bonus reading, and kids’ podcasts. (Though they’re all potentially kids’ podcasts, in that when my kids misbehave in the back seat I threaten to put on an econ podcast and they shape up pretty quick.)The Nathan Nunn article on rethinking economic development was very readable. He argues that instead of investing in development, rich countries could just stop doing things that harm poor countries, like punitive trade and immigration policies, poorly thought out development projects that cause unintended consequences like exacerbating conflict, and academic research that’s blind to the country context. The

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IPA’s weekly links

November 8, 2019

A slope even non-economists can loveGuest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
First, please pass along to your skiing friends that the owner of the ski treehouse above in Whitefish, MT (Glacier National Park adjacent) is offering to donate proceeds to the non-profit I work for, IPA, from any rentals between now and Jan 31. (Instructions here)Among other things, IPA’s been investing in expanding the things that academics don’t always have incentives to do, hiring Ph.D.s and sector experts to do the replications and tinkering (AER probably won’t publish the 4th attempt to test a phenomenon, but to get it right, somebody has find out how it works across borders), build infrastructure for open-science and data transparency, and run longer term coordinated cross-country

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IPA’s weekly links

November 1, 2019

It’s complicated, trust me, see below.Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
Two Blattman-related things, for researchers and aspiring researchers:IPA’s Peace and Recovery program is accepting research proposals, on topics such as war, peace, electoral violence, state-sponsored violence, terrorism, forced displacement, natural disasters, and recovery from all the above.They fund: “full randomized trials, pilot studies, exploratory and descriptive work, travel grants, and (in rare but deserving cases) non-experimental evaluations.” Applications from early career researchers (including Ph.D. and post-docs) are welcome, and there are small exploratory funds (under $10k) earmarked for them.Deadline December 6th, more here, and you can see previously funded work here.For

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IPA’s weekly links

October 25, 2019

They spend the next 45 minutes arguing about Stata vs. R. (In honor of the new Jack Ryan season) Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.
Dave Evans offers a short PhD in Michael Kremer’s work, with quick summaries of 100+ of his papers. But being a Nobel-winning researcher is only one of his jobs. He’s founded, or been instrumental in, more than one non-profit, and in USAID DIV. As a friend told me this morning, most people who know him from just one facet of his life often never know about his many other accomplishments.GiveWell is hiring people for their impact research work at the Ph.D. and other levels. Impressively, they do sponsor work visas, so please let people outside the mainstream U.S. world know. Reach out to them at jobs at givewell.org with

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IPA’s weekly links

October 18, 2019

One of the best Indian dairy cooperative-based Nobel pun cartoons you’ll see all day. Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
That is Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo above, thanks to Neela Saldanha and Elizabeth Koshy for explaining that Abi Jit means “(He) just won” or “won now,” so it means “just won the Nobel.” And that the dairy cooperative Amul is known in India for their punny billboards (which you can also find on their twitter feed).On the Nobel sugar high, as a friend called it, a couple of nice interviews:Michael also credits all the people who work on these studies, and there have been some nice tributes to and from them for example here, and here, and the very nice parties with video connections from all the organizations devoted to doing this work in

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IPA’s weekly links

October 11, 2019

Ethiopian Prime Minister and Nobel Laureate Abiy Ahmed Ali
Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work towards peace with Eritrea, though the committee acknowledged it’s still a work in progress. Ethiopia has also loosened some of its more repressive policies around security and journalism recently. Commentary from BBC starting around 6 minutes here (both stories h/t Laura Seay).For longer background on how Ali came from being a relatively minor figure to a reformer, listen to this UN Dispatch podcast from a few months ago (Apple/iTunes). I learned that Ethiopia still has the largest number of internally displaced people in the world because of internal conflicts – an astounding 3 million

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IPA’s weekly links

October 4, 2019

One of the original Kodak “Shirley” cardsGuest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
Have fun to everybody at the NEUDC conference this weekend! Fun fact: the Northeast Universities Development Consortium conference is being held at Northwestern, which is neither in the Northeast, nor the Northwest. The conference has never been held at Northeastern University. So for everybody complaining about confusing econ speak, this is what they do to themselves.An interesting idea from Michael Lokshin and Martin Ravallion, addressing U.S. (or other wealthy country) labor market needs, immigration, and global poverty at the same time: People in the rich country rent out their right to work to someone who wants to come to the country to work. They outline the basics on VoxEU, Martin

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IPA’s weekly links

September 27, 2019

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
First, a word from Chris (click the linked screenshot below for the whole interesting story):
Here’s that link to his CV (including a graduate degree from Columbia). But you can hear him and Chris on Freakonomics talk about the program he developed in Liberia.
The American Economic Association released its full report on the professional climate survey it ran and it’s not good. Ben Casselman from The New York Times, who has done a lot of reporting on this, excerpts some of the more stunning [email protected] points out the number of things black and Latina women report having had to do to avoid harassment or discrimination (such as giving up a job or other opportunity) is remarkably high – 4.4 compared to 1.5 for the

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IPA’s weekly links

September 20, 2019

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
The animation above comes from a cool page of causal inference animations by Nick Huntington-Klein (h/t Alex Tabarrok), which go through, step-by-step with scatterplots, how different methods work. Alex was one of many who offered helpful tips for getting through undergrad econometrics. Call for papers for the Y-Rise conference Dec 15-21 on the science of scaling promising interventions. They have research networks looking at broad questions (Political Economy; Evidence Aggregation/External Validity; Macro, Growth, & Welfare Effects of Policy Interventions; and Spillovers, Network & Equilibrium Effects), as well as working groups on three promising intervention areas (seasonal poverty, informational failures, and improving

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IPA’s weekly links

September 13, 2019

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
A very cool job market paper and explanatory thread, from Ph.D. candidate Matthew Klein. He, Bradford L. Barham, and Yuexuan Wu, link women’s household bargaining power to malaria rates in Malawi. They find that a one standard deviation increase in a woman’s household bargaining power implies a 40% reduction in chances that anybody in the household contracts malaria. They caution their ability to infer why this works is limited in their data set, but it offers an intriguing route to test to decrease malaria rates, something the WHO just called for.The review paper “How effective is nudging? A quantitative review on the effect sizes and limits of empirical nudging studies”, the source of the figure above, reminds us that nudge

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IPA’s weekly links

September 6, 2019

(Photo via Flickr) Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
I realized after I posted it last week that it was my 200th links, which is a nice occasion to acknowledge and thank my colleague Cara Vu, who, despite being one of the busiest people I know, edits them and saves me from self-humiliation on a weekly basis. She catches between 8 and 200 mistakes in every one.And also thanks for reading. I really do appreciate the occasional emails, twitter shout outs, and in-person hellos from people I’d never meet otherwise. I don’t know if it’s still possible to comment (we had to make the comments harder b/c of spammers), but feel free to tweet or email me. And of course, thanks to Chris for lending me the blog while he works on his book. And if you appreciate the time

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IPA’s weekly links

August 30, 2019

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
Thanks for being patient with the intermittent links schedule over the summer, I expect to have some catch-up ones included over the next weeks.
Congrats to Mauricio Romero, Justin Sandefur, and Wayne Sandholtz, on their forthcoming article in American Economic Review, (ungated) on the Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) program, a public-private partnership testing how a variety of private school operators compared to government operations of public schools. It was a very difficult study to pull off very quickly, and involved incredible work- as Jishnu Das said “Finding children who have left a school is like finding a needle in a haystack. In a country where only 42 percent have access to a cell phone, it’s heroism.” Big

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IPA’s weekly links

August 9, 2019

Guest post by by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
Chris has been threatening it for a while but looks like he’s finally done it (click through to see the full thread and description of why his answer’s not what you might expect):
Set your 2-year clock for my book: Why We Fight. Everything you need to know about why gangs, nations, and other groups go to war, and how to stop it. Just signed with editor Wendy Wolf @VikingBooks, an imprint @PenguinUSA! Huge credit to agent @WordNerdMargo of @BrockmanInc.— Chris Blattman (@cblatts) August 7, 2019If you can’t wait till then, much of his materials are in his class slides and syllabi on this very site.And a really good related thread on criminal governance – when gangs replace functions of government – from Brazil. In this case

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IPA’s weekly links

August 2, 2019

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.
The 26 artifacts, which include statutes and thrones looted by French troops during a military raid against the once powerful West African Kingdom of Dahomey in 1892, are among some of the 5,000 artifacts requested from France by Benin.
And that’s just Benin, there are an estimated 90,000 looted African artifacts in France.
A holy grail in economic development, and really all of business investment, is figuring out which small businesses will grow when given the opportunity. A few years ago David McKenzie evaluated a very successful program in Nigeria involving an intense business plan competition with $50,000 for the winners. The program’s being copied by other countries, but David and Dario Sansone went back to use all the

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IPA’s weekly links

July 26, 2019

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
J-PAL North America has released a pretty spiffy-looking toolkit for doing evaluations in North America, covering conceptual things like assessing feasibility as well as technical things like power calculations, with links to code and more resources (most of the info isn’t specific to North America).It’s been a big few weeks for open science:It is the policy of the American Economic Association to publish papers only if the data and code used in the analysis are clearly and precisely documented, and access to the data and code is clearly and precisely documented and is non-exclusive to the authors.Authors of accepted papers that contain empirical work, simulations, or experimental work must provide, prior to acceptance,

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